Sample Research Paper on Sports: The Downsides to Hosting the Olympics

Research PaperSports

research paper, as the term suggests, is a type of written coursework that communicates a specific point based on information gathered from a variety of academic sources. This sample research paper on sports discusses the downsides to hosting the Olympics. 

Since the modern Olympic Games were inaugurated in 1896, it has risen to become the most prestigious sporting event in the world, dwarfing all other regional sporting events including the most popular such as tennis and  basketball in terms of financial scope and preparation, media coverage, and the number of participating countries and athletes. With the promise of earning billions in revenue, capturing the world’s undivided attention, and garnering the prestige of being a host city, it is no wonder why some cities scramble to win the right to host this event. According to the International Olympic Committee or IOC, 3 billion people around the globe watched the recently held Tokyo 2021 Olympics (IOC, 2021).  The realities of holding the Olympics, however, do not always live up to cities’ expectations. Indeed, behind the lavish ceremonies, towering stadiums, and exhilarating matches are the serious downsides of serving as host, all of which are becoming more apparent as the Olympics become more extravagant in cost and scale. Some of the more immediate disadvantages are massive cost overruns that offset returns on investments, challenges of maintaining infrastructure, and long-term public resentment.

One of the main downsides to hosting the Olympics is the massive cost overruns that cities frequently endure. Part of the bidding process is the presentation of the proposal which includes the budget (Horne & Whannel, 2020). Staying within the budget, however, has been impossible for many decades now. The most recent summer edition in Tokyo, for instance, had a budget of $7.3 billion. But the final cost including expenses incurred by the postponement due to the  COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to be at around $28 billion. Other cities have had the same fate: conservative estimates put the Sochi 2014 Olympics at $21 billion, which represented an overrun of 289%; Rio de Janeiro reportedly spent $14 billion, which was a 352% overrun; meanwhile, London had it a little better with an overrun of 76% (McCarthy, 2021). A study conducted by the University of Oxford found that on average cities go over budget by 172% (University of Oxford, 2020). The sheer amount of budget overruns mean that cities that hold the Olympics are less likely to see returns on their investments. The more a city spends, the less net revenue they get. But going over budget is just one side of this problem; the other is the fact that the Olympics is no longer as popular as it once was. Comparison of viewer data from previous Olympics showed that on average only 15.1 million Americans watched the Tokyo Olympics on television, down from 31.1 million during the 2012 London Olympics and 25.8 million during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Overall, only 150 million Americans watched parts of the games, down 24% compared to the previous summer Olympics in 2016. The trend is by no means unique to the United States, as other countries such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom also saw declines in viewership (Adgate, 2021; Hsu, 2021). The massive cost overruns coupled with declining viewership indicates that holding the games may not be as profitable for cities as it once was. Indeed, as in the case of Tokyo’s losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, winning the bid may turn out to be a financial drain if global events disrupt operations.

Apart from cost overruns, another problem that hosting the games cause is the challenge of maintaining infrastructure. Cities that host the games are often required to build the infrastructure necessary for the event. These include an Olympic village to house staff and athletes, stadiums, roads, and mass transport systems. In some cases, cities even built new airports to manage the influx of people (Horne & Whannel, 2020). The problem, however, is that many of the cities no longer have any use for these structures once the games are over. Cities are then forced to keep spending on these structures for maintenance even when they have outlived their usefulness. For example, Sydney’s stadium incurs around $30 million in maintenance costs every year while the famed “Bird’s Nest” stadium in Beijing costs $10 million a year despite the fact that it has not been used since 2008 (McBride & Manno, 2021). Meanwhile, venues in other cities have fallen into disrepair. The structures in Rio de Janeiro started falling apart soon after the games were over; the same is the case in Pyeongchang even though the Olympics were held there just a few years ago (Davis, 2020). Because of the massive costs associated with holding the games, it is very rare for cities to host the Olympics more than once. Unless cities find ways of ensuring that such structures remain useful after the games, they face the possibility of continuously spending on these white elephants or just letting them break down over time.

Finally, hosting the games could also result in long-term public resentment. While cities view hosting as an investment, the development required to serve as a venue often upends the lives of those affected. For instance, displacement is a common consequence for those living near the site of the games. In Tokyo, over 300 households were relocated to make room for new infrastructure (McDougall & Ross, 2021). Similarly, as many as 60,000 in Rio de Janeiro were evicted from their homes following the demolition of favelas or slums (Jenkins, 2016). The gentrification that often accompanies the games not only upends the lives of those affected but is also often seen as nothing more than a superficial facelift that benefits the games more than it does the communities in which the Olympics are held. The resentment is particularly strong in places where poverty rates are high since many believe that money spent on the games should have been invested in projects that directly benefit locals. Indeed, resentment can even last long after the end of the games. In Greece, the debt incurred due to Athens’ hosting in 2004 was among the factors that contributed to the country’s bankruptcy years later (McBride & Manno, 2021). In sum, the prestige that a city gains in hosting the games is likely to be offset by local resentment if the city fails to consider the needs of the local population. Oftentimes, those who suffer poverty are the ones who bear the negative economic effects of serving as a venue.

In conclusion, hosting the Olympics is an opportunity that many cities want to have. More than the pride and prestige it brings, serving as a venue also gives a city the chance to turn it into an investment. But while the benefits look good on paper, expectations do not always materialize, and holding the games may eventually bring more problems than benefits. As the discussion shows, cost overruns are not uncommon, thus offsetting financial gains that result from tourist spending. Poor planning regarding the use of infrastructure after the Olympics also leaves cities with white elephants. Meanwhile, the negative effects of the games can give rise to long-term resentment from the public. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

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Adgate, B. (2021, August 10). Tokyo Olympics ratings plummeted—But NBC dominated primetime. Forbes .

Davis, S. (2020, March 6). What abandoned Olympic venues and stadiums from around the world look like today. Business Insider .

Horne, J. & Whannel, G. (2020). Understanding the Olympics. Routledge.

Hsu, T. (2021, August 9). Tokyo Olympics draw smallest summer games TV audience since 1988. The New York Times .

International Olympic Committee. (2021, December). Tokyo 2020 audience insights report .

Jenkins, S. (2016, August 7). For the displaced of Rio, ‘The Olympics has nothing to do with our story’. The Washington Post .

McBride, J. & Manno, M. (2021, December 14). The economics of hosting the Olympic Games. Council on Foreign Relations.

McCarthy N. (2021, July 21). The massive costs behind the Olympic Games [Infographic]. Forbes .

McDougall, M. & Ross, M. (2021,  July 29). The Olympics is a disaster for people who live in host cities. The Washington Post .

University of Oxford. (2020). Olympic costs are comparable to ‘deep disasters’ like pandemics, earthquakes, tsunamis and war .

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